Did you know that Tom Luna sued his own volunteers?
Don't be fooled by liberal media. Rumors start and spread, especially when they are sensational or controversial. During the 2022 Idaho Primaries, this is exactly what happened.
Key points to consider (the full story is found below).
Chairman Tom Luna sued the Bonneville Central Committee and the individual volunteers on it without warning, without party authorization, and without attempting to work it out.
Many now wonder if the Chairman is wasting thousands in party donations on behalf of certain candidates and wealthy donors.
A party chairman should not act this way, and volunteers acting in good faith should not be treated this way.
Bonneville's Central Committee volunteers acted in good faith, diligently learning about candidates and informing Republican voters.
Several other central committees in Idaho have done the same things, yet they didn’t get sued by Luna.
Bonneville did not attack any candidate on the ballot – The committee merely recommended some of the best candidates after a thorough review process of those seeking the party nomination.
The State GOP shockingly paid the costs for several candidates to join the lawsuit against their own party.
Luna violated freedom of speech by seeking a restraining order on Bonneville County.
The lawsuit is ongoing – there has been no ruling or arguments yet.
Contrary to claims, there was no violation of state election laws, and the State party rules specifically allow central committees to take these kind of actions (See Article IX).
Luna has followed a pattern of publicity stunts like this that embarrass the party. In each case, he has almost immediately gone to the liberal media to publicize his actions.
Suing party volunteers over inter-party bylaws is a terrible precedent that embarrassed the party and hurts its ability to recruit and solicit donations.
With this ugly publicity stunt over inter-party disagreements, Luna has caused real-life harm to the reputations, careers, and relationships of the volunteers who help make up the Bonneville County Central Committee.
A Chairman Gone Rogue State Party Rules
Idaho State GOP Chairman Tom Luna is causing irreparable harm to the Idaho Republican Party.
Without warning, he has sued one of his own local county branches, and he has also personally sued all of the volunteers on its leadership committee.
This is unprecedented - never happened before in Idaho, but it gets worse. Chairman Tom Luna did this without any authorization from the party. He didn't even consult the State Executive Committee. He is apparently spending thousands of dollars in legal costs based on a funding commitment from a Billionaire donor from outside the party organization. Who is Chairman Tom Luna actually working for?
Suing party volunteers over disagreements in the application of internal party rules is a terrible course of action. These local party volunteers are being hurt. Their livelihoods, their careers, and their reputations are being harmed, and at this point, some even fear that the ruthless DC lawyers hired for this suit could try to bankrupt their families personally.
In going rogue, this Chairman isn't only hurting these local volunteers though. He's hurting the whole of his own party immeasurably. These actions will turn off many volunteers across the state - local volunteers that the party desperately needs.
Who will sign up to participate in an organization where you can have no influence over nominations, but you can be sued over disagreements in the technicalities in the myriad of party bylaws?
Besides wasting thousands in party funds with legal attacks and defenses, Chairman Luna's course of action will also have a chilling effect on future donors. Already people are starting to ask if their money will be wasted on legal action, and if so, on which side of the dispute.
A full detailed background of the situation will be laid out below, but party members and state convention delegates need to know that their own Chairman has gone rogue - that he is willing to sue them, rather that talk to them or work things out through party procedures, in order to get his way. Tom Luna is harming the party he was elected to serve at the behest of people that don't have the party's best interests in mind.
What Really Happened
On May 12,2022, Chairman Tom Luna sued the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee and each of the volunteers on its leadership team. Despite conflicting claims and explanations, the written wording of Tom Luna's lawsuit is clear. The lawsuit is not over any state or federal election laws, and it’s not about any sort of criminal concerns. Luna’s lawsuit is specifically for claimed violations of internal and local party rules.
The Bonneville County Republican Party was sued by State Republican Chairman Luna over disagreements of interpretation in its own internal bylaws. The main remedy they sought so far was a preliminary injunction to prohibit Bonneville from distributing a flyer that had already been distributed. Tom Luna and his big donor have both been in the press throwing various gripes and explanations against the wall to see what sticks, but the subject of the lawsuit is clear, and it doesn’t cover most of their apparent feud with Bonneville County Republicans.
1. They first claimed that Bonneville's flyer was deceptive and misleading by somehow implying that the State party had endorsed candidates. A quick look at the flyer itself lays that argument to waste. The word "State" and the word "Idaho" are nowhere on the flyer. The flyer in question actually states Bonneville twice on front and states Bonneville twice more on back. In addition, there is a large Bonneville County GOP specific logo, there is link to the Bonneville County specific GOP website, a Bonneville County GOP phone number, and a QR code that goes directly to Bonneville County GOP.
They’ve repeatedly criticized the fact that the word "Official' appears on the flyer, but it is accurate. The Bonneville County Republican Central Committee is the official Republican party in Bonneville County. Use of that word is also justified. Candidates and other organizations have repeatedly implied that they are speaking for the party - both here in Bonneville and throughout the state.
2. Next they claimed that Bonneville should be completely neutral on our own primary nominations. This idea is completely contrary to Tom Luna's own state party rules. Article IX specifically states that county-level GOP organizations can not only endorse candidates, but also determine their political affiliation. Bonneville is attempting to follow state party rules in good faith just as are several other counties in the state (who have not been sued) have done this year.
3. Then they claimed that the flyer was a violation of State sunshine laws. It is not. The Idaho Secretary of State's office reviewed this flyer specifically and cleared it. There is no question or ambiguity about where this flyer comes from.
4. Finally, they flip-flopped to a claim that the flyer didn't follow federal FCC election laws. Because two of the 17 Bonneville County nominee recommendations are actually running for national office, technically, the specific words "paid for by" should have been included somewhere on the flyer. There is no known federal complaint about this issue, and it isn't the subject of Luna's lawsuit.
Based on the ongoing use of shifting explanations for this lawsuit, it appears that Chairman Luna and his backers intended to sue no matter what. They seem to be throwing anything and everything against the wall to see what will stick.
It's important to note that, overstepping his authority and publicly attacking Bonneville County seem to be a pattern for Chairman Luna.
Earlier in this same election cycle, when Bonneville donated some of its own funds to several well-known conservative candidates - something that many other counties in the state have done, and something entirely different than an endorsement - Chairman Tom Luna attempted to enact state level enforcement of Bonneville’s own local "in-house" bylaws. Many county-level GOP organizations in Idaho don’t even have written bylaws, so it seems more than a little out of line for the state party chairman to presume to mandate his own interpretation of Bonneville’s own local self-imposed rules. To resolve the confusion, Bonneville precinct officers simply amended the line in their own local bylaws that was causing the confusion. In the process though, Chairman Tom Luna publicly released his inappropriate letter to the press - allowing the liberal media to run away with it. This caused predictable division and embarrassment for the Republican Party.
Chairman Luna did the same bad publicity stunt again just weeks later when he issued a letter without warning condemning Bonneville's flyer. While local volunteers were begging Chairman Luna to call our leadership and talk things out, he had already released his slanderous letter to several disgruntled candidates in the county. Many now suspect that these candidates helped draft Tom's public and inappropriate letter. The untimely public release of his second letter caused more contention, division, and embarrassment for the Republican Party.
Then, only two days after that slanderous letter, and again without warning, Chairman Luna filed his unprecedented lawsuit. As usual, Chairman Luna publicized his lawsuit in the local media – this time before the plaintiffs had even been served. Liberal media outlets loved it, and they loved the chance Chairman Luna had given them to once again embarrass the Republican Party and cause division within it.
After filing the lawsuit, Tom Luna’s lawyers immediately sought a preliminary injunction to prohibit distribution of Bonneville’s flyer. This action makes little sense because the flyer had already been distributed in the mail a week earlier. Nevertheless, Luna’s expensive DC legal team sought and obtained the injunction (gag order), and he used it for even more publicity. Despite the fact that the merits of the case hadn’t even been discussed yet – much less ruled on by a judge, Chairman Luna gave the media the impression that he had won the suit. Meanwhile the local volunteers were painted as somehow guilty of egregious offenses and had no chance to even correct the record before the pending election.
The pattern here is clear. Instead of communicating with local party leaders and working things out privately, Chairman Tom Luna goes first to the media with these publicly stunts - no matter the harm to the party that doing so causes.
Within an organization as diverse and complex as the Republican party in Idaho, there are bound to be misunderstandings and disagreements. Chairman Luna’s methods are not the right way to handle these differences though.
The Republican party is a grass-roots organization made up of volunteers who care deeply about patriotism and freedom. These volunteers who make up the GOP start at the local neighborhood precinct level and elect leaders all the way up to the State Party Chairman. They elect a state party chairman to help their efforts – not to rule over them with lawsuits, publicity stunts, and top-down mandates.
The Bonneville County Republican Party incorporates the efforts of over a hundred volunteers. These patriots work in good faith to help promote conservatism, organize the party, and inform voters. They dedicated hundreds of hours in the last election cycle to the cause. These amateur volunteers try hard to operate correctly within the organization of the GOP structure. They do not deserve to be treated this way by their own chairman.
A chairman is not a dictator. A Republican party state chairman should be actively helping his local county-level organizations – not undermining them, suing them, or conspiring with candidates and donors in their county. Chairman Luna’s feud with one of his own counties is counterproductive and completely out of line.
The official Republican Party is an important organization in Idaho and in each county. If the actions of a rogue chairman are allowed to continue though, the party will be hurt immensely.